A potentially embarrassing exterior adornment

By Raul Ascunce, Special to the Sentinel-Tribune

Sitting at the breakfast table in our sunroom, I said to the wife, “You know what? I feel sorry for kids today who don’t have all 22 volumes of World Book Encyclopedias on a book shelf.”

“Well now,” the wife said, “that is a completely random thought. Care to elaborate?”

“I am sitting here looking around the sunroom and see eight whales that decorate this room.”

“Come to think of it, that does seem like an excessive amount of whales for one room,” the wife commented.

“And do you know why there are so many whales in here? It’ because as a kid, my family had a set of World Book Encyclopedias and one of my favorite volumes was the ‘WXYZ’ volume that had stories and pictures of the 90-some species of whales that swim the oceans,” I said with childlike excitement.

“So, we have World Book to blame for our sunroom décor?”

“Not just our sunroom. You’re going to be mad at me, but I want another whale,” I said cautiously.

“That would be a hard no,” she sternly spat.

“Don’t make me blubber … get it? I would like to replace the old plastic eagle that has been hanging over our garage door the past 36 years with a sperm whale. What do you think?”

“I think it sounds a little gross. What is wrong with our eagle? It’s patriotic and a nice piece of Americana,” the wife defended.

“After 36 years of freezing and thawing it looks more like an emaciated chicken,” I said. “A black steel sperm whale would look awesome with our New England style home and our sailboat weathervane.”

“For the love of God, why not a blue whale, a gray whale, or a Beluga for that matter? Why does it have to be a sperm whale?” the wife exasperated.

“The most famous whale in classic literature, Moby Dick, was a sperm whale. Sperm whales have the most powerful and majestic silhouettes of all the whales. The rest are all lumpy and gross.”

“It’s bad enough that you want another whale, but to put a sperm whale on the front of our house, well that’s just not acceptable.”

I had no recourse but to sit there and blubber.

Unbeknownst to me, the wife was plotting at that very moment. A good friend of her is a metal sculptor. It was close to Valentine’s Day. The wife decided she would surprise me with an original piece of whale art.

“Hello,” the wife said to her friend, “Oh my, this is so awkward. I don’t even know how to ask. Would you be able to make a sperm whale for my husband? I tried to talk him into a blue whale or something less embarrassing, but he wants a sperm whale.”

“No problem,” the friend said, “and I totally agree with your husband. The sperm whale has the most powerful and majestic silhouette of all the whales. The rest are lumpy and gross. I would be happy to create your whale.”

A few weeks ago, we got the call from our sculptor friend. The whale was finished.

Now, a beautiful, powerful, and majestic sperm whale hangs proudly above our garage door. It’s one of the best surprises the wife ever gave me. I know what you all are thinking, “Now that’s one whale of a story.”

Raul’s new whale.

Raul Ascunce is a freelance columnist for the Sentinel-Tribune. He may be contacted at [email protected].